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FourScore

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Member since: Thu Mar 16, 2006, 02:07 PM
Number of posts: 8,598

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Not too long ago...

This has probably been posted here at DU before (and I'm sorry if it's a repeat), but with the latest shootings, it seems like a good time to post it.


Independence Day Special: A Dozen Facts About America Conservatives Would Like You to Forget

Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 03:09 AM PDT
Independence Day Special: A Dozen Facts About America Conservatives Would Like You to Forget
by Richard Riis





1. Conservatives opposed the Founding Fathers, the American Revolution and a lot of other righteous stuff as well.

By definition a conservative is one who wishes to preserve and/or restore traditional values and institutions, i.e. to “conserve” the established order. No surprise then that 18th century American conservatives wanted no part of breaking away from the British Empire and the comforting bonds of monarchical government. Those anti-revolutionary conservatives were called Tories, the name still used for the conservative party in England. The Founding Fathers? As radically left-wing as they came in the 1770s. The Boston Tea Party? The "Occupy Wall Street" of its day.

Some of the other "traditional" values supported by conservatives over the course of American history have included slavery (remember that the Republican Party was on the liberal fringe in 1860), religious persecution, the subjugation of women and minorities, obstacles to immigration, voter suppression, prohibition and segregation. Conservatives started off on the wrong side of American history, and that's where they've been ever since.

2. The United States is not a Christian nation, and the Bible is not the cornerstone of our law.

Don’t take my word for it. Let these Founding Fathers speak for themselves:

John Adams: “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (Treaty of Tripoli, 1797)

Thomas Jefferson: “Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.” (Letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814)

James Madison: “The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.” (Writings, 8:432, 1819)

George Washington: “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.” (Letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789)

You can find a multitude of similar quotes from these men and most others who signed the Declaration of Independence and/or formulated the United States Constitution. These are hardly the words of men who believed that America should be a Christian nation governed by the Bible, as a disturbing fundamentalist trend today would have it be.

2. Long before the United States even existed, it was drawing "problem" immigrants.

After being pretty much run out of England as anti-government radicals, the religious dissidents we know today as the Pilgrims settled in Leiden, Holland, where they set about making themselves that nation's immigrant problem. Sticking to themselves and refusing to “blend in” with their new homeland, the Pilgrims grew alarmed by the unpalatable ideas to which their children were being exposed, such as religious tolerance (good for the Pilgrims, bad for everyone else) and national service (like all Dutch residents, the Pilgrims were eligible for the draft). When their children began picking up the Dutch language, the Pilgrims had had enough. By then the Dutch had, too. Next stop: Plymouth Rock.

3. Those Pilgrims were commies... and it saved their lives.

Governor William Bradford’s memoirs confirm that the first thing the settlers did upon arrival in the Plymouth Colony was to set up a textbook communist system of production and distribution. Every resident of the colony was expected to share, to the extent of his or her ability, the chores of hunting, farming, cooking, building, making clothing, etc., and, in exchange, everyone shared the products of that communal labor.

That commie-pinko economy sustained the Pilgrims through their first brutal year in the New World, after which it was decided that the colony was sufficiently stable to allow householders their own plot of land on which to grow crops they were free to keep for themselves. The fact that the colonists’ productivity increased exponentially with their own land begs the question: were the Pilgrims working harder now that they got to keep the product of their own labor or, conversely, were they prone to slacking off when the goods came whether they worked hard or not?

I guess you could say the Pilgrims were the kind of lazy, shiftless “takers” that conservatives are always railing against.

4. One of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, hated Thanksgiving.

In fact, Thomas Jefferson once called a national day of Thanksgiving “the most ridiculous idea” he’d ever heard of.

Despite being first proclaimed by George Washington in 1789, Jefferson believed a national day of thanksgiving was not consistent with the principle of separation of church and state and refused to recognize the holiday in any of the eight years in which he was president of the United States. “Every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason,” Jefferson once wrote, “and mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.”

For the record, Presidents Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor refused to issue Thanksgiving Day proclamations during their administrations, too. Can you imagine what Fox News Channel would have made of these administrations' “War on Thanksgiving”?

5. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist.

The Pledge was written in 1892 for public school celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. Its author was Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, Christian socialist and cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. Christian socialism maintains, among other ideas, that capitalism is idolatrous and rooted in greed, and the underlying cause of much of the world’s social inequity. Kinda puts the red in the ol' red, white and blue, doesn't it?

6. Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan decision made by a predominantly Republican-appointed Supreme Court.

Technically, Roe v. Wade did not make abortion legal in the United States, the Supreme Court merely found that the state of Texas’ prohibition on abortion violated the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause and that states could exercise varying degrees of discretion in regulating abortion, depending upon the stage of pregnancy. The Court also held the law violated the right to privacy under substantive due process.
That being said, the landmark 1973 ruling that conservatives love to hate, was decided on a 7-2 vote that broke down like this:

Majority (for Roe): Chief Justice Warren Burger (conservative, appointed by Nixon), William O. Douglas (liberal, appointed by FDR), William J. Brennan (liberal, appointed by Eisenhower), Potter Stewart (moderate, appointed by Eisenhower), Thurgood Marshall (liberal, appointed by LBJ), Harry Blackmun (author of the majority opinion and a conservative who eventually turned liberal, appointed by Nixon), Lewis Powell (moderate, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 3 liberals, 2 conservatives, 2 moderates.

Dissenting (for Wade): Byron White (generally liberal/sometimes conservative, appointed by JFK), William Rehnquist (conservative, appointed by Nixon). Summary: 1 liberal, 1 conservative.

By ideological orientation, it was an across-the-board decision for Roe: conservatives 2-1, liberals 3-1, moderates 2-0; by party of presidential appointment: Republicans 5-1, Democrats 2-1. No one can rightly say that this was a leftist court forcing its liberal beliefs on America.

7. Conservative icon Ronald Reagan once signed a bill legalizing abortion.

The Ronald Reagan conservatives worship today is more myth than reality. Reagan was a conservative for sure, but also a practical politician who understood the necessities of compromise. In the spring of 1967, four months into his first term as governor of California, Ronald Reagan signed a bill that, among other provisions, legalized abortion for the vaguely-defined “well being” of the mother. Reagan may have been personally pro-life, but in this instance he was willing to compromise in order to achieve other ends he considered more important. That he claimed later to regret signing the bill doesn’t change the fact that he did. As Casey Stengel liked to say, “You could look it up.”

8. Reagan also raised federal taxes eleven times.

Okay, Ronald Reagan cut tax rates more than any other president – with a big asterisk. Sure, the top rate was reduced from 70% in 1980 all the way down to 28% in 1988, but while Republicans typically point to Reagan’s tax-cutting as the right approach to improving the economy, Reagan himself realized the resulting national debt from his revenue slashing was untenable, so he quietly raised other taxes on income – primarily Social Security and payroll taxes - no less than eleven times. Most of Reagan’s highly publicized tax cuts went to the usual handout-takers in the top income brackets, while his stealth tax increases had their biggest impact on the middle class. These increases were well hidden inside such innocuous-sounding packages as the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. Leave it to a seasoned actor to pull off such a masterful charade.

9. Barry Goldwater was pro-choice, supported gay rights, deeply despised the Religious Right, and - gasp! - liked Hillary Clinton.

It's a measure of just how much farther right contemporary conservatism has shifted in just a generation or two that Barry "Mr. Conservative" Goldwater, the Republican standard-bearer in 1964, couldn't buy a ticket into a GOP convention in 2014.

There's no debating Goldwater's deeply conservative bona fides, but check these pronouncements from the man himself:

"I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state. The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don't hurt anyone else in the process." (Interview, Washington Post, July 28, 1994)

"A woman has a right to an abortion. That's a decision that's up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right." (Interview, Los Angeles Times, 1994)

“The big thing is to make this country… quit discriminating against people just because they're gay. You don't have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. ... They're American citizens.” (Interview, Washington Post, July 28, 1994)

"Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know; I've tried to deal with them. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’" (Congressional Record, September 16, 1981)

"If let his wife run business, I think he'd be better off. ... I just like the way she acts. I've never met her, but I sent her a bag of chili, and she invited me to come to the White House some night and said she'd cook chili for me." (Interview, Washington Post, July 28, 1994)

10. The first president to propose national health insurance was a Republican.

He was also a trust-busting, pro-labor, Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist. Is there any wonder why Theodore Roosevelt, who first proposed a system of national health insurance during his unsuccessful Progressive Party campaign to retake the White House from William Howard Taft in 1912, gets scarce mention at Republican National Conventions these days?

11. Those "job-killing" environmental regulations? Republican things.

Sometimes being conservative can be a good thing, like when it applies to conserving America's clean air and water, endangered wildlife and awesome natural beauty. Many of Theodore Roosevelt's greatest accomplishments as president were in the area of conserving America's natural environment. In 1905, Roosevelt formed the United States Forestry Service. Under his presidential authority, vast expanses of American real estate were declared off limits for private development and reserved for public use. During Roosevelt's time as president, forest reserves in the United States went from approximately 43 million acres to about 194 million acres. Talk about big government land grabs!

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, arch-enemy of polluters in particular and government regulation haters in general, was created by that other well-known GOP tree hugger, Richard Nixon. In his 1970 State of the Union Address, Nixon proclaimed the new decade a period of environmental transformation. Shortly thereafter he presented Congress an unprecedented 37-point message on the environment, requesting billions for the improvement of water treatment facilities, asking for national air quality standards and stringent guidelines to lower motor vehicle emissions, and launching federally-funded research to reduce automobile pollution. Nixon also ordered a clean-up of air- and water-polluting federal facilities, sought legislation to end the dumping of wastes into the Great Lakes, proposed a tax on lead additives in gasoline, and approved a National Contingency Plan for the treatment of petroleum spills. In July 1970 Nixon declared his intention to establish the Environmental Protection Agency, and that December the EPA opened for business. Hard to believe, but had it not been for Watergate, we might remember Richard Nixon today as the “environmental president”.

Oh, yes – conservatives would rather forget that Nixon was an advocate of national health insurance, too.

12. President Obama was not only born in the United States, his roots run deeper in American history than most conservatives’ - and most other Americans' - do.

The argument that Barack Obama was born anywhere but at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, is not worth addressing; the evidence is indisputable by any rational human being. But not even irrational “birthers” can dispute Obama’s well-documented family tree on his mother’s side. By way of his Dunham lineage, President Obama has at least 11 direct ancestors who took up arms and fought for American independence in the Revolutionary War and two others cited as patriots by the Daughters of the American Revolution for furnishing supplies to the colonial army. This star-spangled heritage makes Obama eligible to join the Sons of the American Revolution, and his daughters the Daughters of the American Revolution. Not bad for someone some conservatives on the lunatic fringe still insist is a foreigner bent on destroying the United States of America.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/07/04/1311570/-Independence-Day-Special-A-Dozen-Facts-About-America-Conservatives-Would-Like-You-to-Forget

Supreme Court rules women can be discriminated against in health decisions

Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 07:47 AM PDT
Supreme Court rules women can be discriminated against in health decisions
by Joan McCarter


Protesters hold signs at the steps of the Supreme Court as arguments begin today to challenge the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers provide coverage for contraception as part of an employee's health care, in Washington March 25, 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court convened on Tuesday to consider whether business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama's healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control.     REUTERS/Larry Downing   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH BUSINESS RELIGION) - RTR3IJ5S
The U.S. Supreme Court has given corporations even more personhood by deciding that they can have religious beliefs in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. They ruled that closely held companies are exempt from the contraceptive coverage mandate for their employees' health insurance, and are exempt from that provision of the Affordable Care Act. The decision, 5-4 and the majority opinion written by Alito, is being described as "narrow." It is narrow, in that basically only applies to women.

The Court says:

This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs.


Men could need blood transfusions or vaccinations, so of course they can't allow the exemption from Obamacare to extend to them. The Court then says that this ruling is preventing discrimination. That would be discrimination against who really matters to the majority of the Roberts Court—corporations.

The decision also only applies to "closely held" corporations, which the IRS defines as having more than 50 percent of its stock owned by 5 or fewer individuals. It says that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires that the "government provide closely-held corporate objectors the same accommodation it already provides nonprofit organization objectors."

So religious belief trumps medical science and women's ability to make their own health care decisions, and corporations get to dictate that, according to the majority of the Supreme Court.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/30/1310535/-Supreme-Court-rules-women-can-be-discriminated-against-in-health-decisions

OT: Hmm... And what's that I see behind those peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment right? Is that a barrier? Oh, that's right, the supreme Court isn't a woman's healthcare facility! Silly me!

TOM TOMORROW: The Droney memo

Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT
Cartoon: The Droney memo
by Tom Tomorrow



http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/30/1310372/-Cartoon-The-Droney-memo

His father's eyes

Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 01:10 PM PDT
His father's eyes
by SteelerGrrl

He was a rising senior and standout scholar-athlete at his high school. I was the cardiac sonographer on weekend call at the regional trauma center. Answering a mid-afternoon page, I was promptly connected to ICU. "GSW," the charge nurse said flatly. "Harvest."
"I'll be right there."

GSW. Gun shot wound. Someone has been declared clinically brain dead, and the next of kin has consented to donate his or her heart. Organ donation is a tightly choreographed process and every minute counts. My job was to do an ultrasound study of the donor's heart and deliver it stat to my cardiologist, who would assess its viability for transplant.

Guiding my unwieldy machine out of the elevator and into the normally-sterile corridor, I found it teeming with humanity. Mostly teenagers, they were huddled in small groups. Shaking, sobbing, praying.

This was going to be bad.



His cramped room is already packed with family and life support machinery. I introduce myself, scanning their faces. They part silently as I set up my equipment. I know instantly which is his father. I will never forget the look in his father's eyes.

He doesn't look dead. His chest rises and falls with the ventilator; the monitor displays normal vital signs. As I lay my probe on his chest, his skin is warm beneath my glove. His heart springs to life for all to see. Strong. Steady. So much living left to do.

I complete my study methodically, efficiently, as X-ray and lab line up for their turn. His heart function is within normal limits, but I can't tell the family that. Instead, I nod awkwardly and them them I'm so sorry. Mindful of the vigil in the hall, I pause at the door to dab away the rising well in my eyes with a washcloth. It turns out the washcloth is covered with ultrasound gel.

The cold and indignity shock me back into clinical mode. Page the cardiologist. Drive home. The brilliant sun suddenly seems cruel, illuminating a world that doesn't feel beautiful anymore. It feels broken, bleeding about the jagged edges of a piece senselessly and irrevocably ripped from its very flesh.

There was a gun in his home, and there was an accident. It doesn't matter where, or when, or how it happened. In a more perfect world, stories like his would be rare. Instead, he succumbed to the second most common cause of death among children and young people. From the New England Journal of Medicine: (word cloud above)

In 2010, gun-related injuries accounted for 6570 deaths of children and young people (1 to 24 years of age). That includes 7 deaths per day among people 1 to 19 years of age. Gun injuries cause twice as many deaths as cancer, 5 times as many as heart disease, and 15 times as many as infections.


Emphasis mine. Seven gun-related deaths per day, age 1 to 19. Seven bedside vigils, seven devastated families, seven fathers and mothers with a look in their eyes that stays with you forever. My nursing textbooks tell me to work with measurable quantities. How do you measure heartbreak? How do you quantify the carnage of a single bullet, when its wake is measured in decades and generations?

A year after that unforgettable call, I received a card at work. It was signed by the recipient of that young man's heart. He was doing wonderfully, back at work, and able to play with his kids again.

Only then, far removed from the clinical detachment of the moment, did I comprehend the great gift that young man's family had bestowed in a moment of unspeakable tragedy. Only then did I let myself cry.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/26/1309774/-His-father-s-eyes

Tom Tomorrow: In a just world

Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT
Cartoon: In a just world
by Tom Tomorrow



MUST READ RANT FROM STONEKETTLE STATION: Absolutely Nothing

Tragically, all we’ve fought for in Iraq, all that 4,500 American lives were shed to gain, is on the cusp, potentially, of vanishing.
- Mitt Romney, “Ideas Summit,” 6/13/2014



All we fought for in Iraq.

All we fought for in Iraq is on the cusp of vanishing.

That’s what Mitt Romney says.

We fought for. We fought for. We.

Oh, so it’s we now, is it, Mitt?

We.

I must have missed you over there, but it was a busy place. We. The guy who helped set up “pro-draft” rallies and yet somehow managed to avoid service in Vietnam is upset about losing what “we” fought for? We.

Yeah, fuck you, Mitt...

READ IT ALL HERE: http://www.stonekettle.com/2014/06/absolutely-nothing.html

Five things I learned about conservatives these past two weeks

Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 07:45 AM PDT
Five things I learned about conservatives these past two weeks
by kos


Duck Dynasty cast photo alongside photo of Bob Bergdahl showing them sporting similar beards.


Some of these beards are patriotic, others are just like the Taliban. Can you spot which is which?
Conservatives have kindly given us an illuminating inside look into their world view these past few weeks. Things I've learned:

* Reality is a mere inconvenience. Remember when Obamacare would destroy the world? How many of them are talking about the ACA today? The number is pretty much zero. The law proved its worth, and they moved on. There was Cliven Bundy, but that flamed out, so forget he ever existed. So they moved on to Benghazi select committee, but how much are you hearing about that these days? No, now it's BERGDAHL who will finally prove Obama's undoing. Except he won't.

* "Leave no one behind" is not a conservative value. The Solider's Creed says, "I will never leave a fallen comrade." The Airman's Creed says, "I will never leave an airman behind." It's a foundational military and American value. For conservatives, it's "leave no one behind, unless Sarah Palin has something to say about it, then it depends." That's simply un-American.

* Forget about supporting the troops. It's not just leaving our troops prisoner in the hands of our enemies. Conservatives filibustered increased spending on veterans health care. And let's not forget, they'll boo our troops if they happen to be of the wrong sexual persuasion. In other words, support for the troops is now lip service, and even then, situational. It really depends.

* Beards say "I love America!" except the Taliban ones. Long beards are okay when they're on the face of Duck Dynasty pretend hillbillies, but not okay on the face of Bowe Bergdahl's father. Just because.

* Keeping schoolchildren alive is not a priority. Given the choice between unfettered access to weapons of mass killing or keeping our school children safe, conservatives have made their choice very clear. For them, dead school children are preferable.

Alright, I admit it. I didn't learn most of those things these past two weeks. The "leave no one behind, maybe" was new, as was the crazy beard thing. But the rest? It merely confirmed what we already knew. None of it very pretty.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/10/1305863/-Five-things-I-learned-about-conservatives-these-past-two-weeks

FOX NEWS ALERT!! SGT BERGDAHL BEHEADED BY TALIBAN

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:57 AM PDT
FOX NEWS ALERT!! SGT BERGDAHL BEHEADED BY TALIBAN
by lynn47

FOX NEWS ALERT!!!!! SGT BERGDAHL BEHEADED BY THE TALIBAN!!

Fox Coverage of this Breaking Story will be Ongoing through the Day!!!!!

On Hannity tonight, his Guest Col. Oliver North will talk in detail about the Iran Contra Affair in Detail for the first time...Per Col. North," President Reagan and I worked hand in hand to keep America Safe. We would never have let a Hero like Sgt. Bergdahl end up this way. We never left a soldier behind. Obama is the weakest President in my lifetime, this is a National Disgrace."

Also on Hannity, members of Sgt. Berdahl's Company speak for the first time on TV!!

Said one member of his platoon,"Sgt. Bergdahl was a deep thinking man but a great soldier, sometimes he would walk at night just to clear his head. I will never forgive myself for letting him get captured. To a man, anyone of us would have given our life to get him back. Why didn't the Military do more to free this American Hero is something I will never understand. We never leave a soldier behind is what I was taught."

After that on the Kelly Files!!!

Kelly will be interviewing some of the people from Sgt. Bergdahl's hometown. Said on of his close neighbors," This kid was an American Hero that Obama left to die. The town is going to have a huge celebration of his life this week. It will help us heal our wounds as we grieve for this Great American who was left behind."

Also on the Kelly Files, a Retired General who has connections at the highest levels will give his opinion!! He has documents that show the Administration knew the Sgt. Bergdahl would lose his life but did nothing!! Only on the Kelly Files, do not miss this breaking story.

This just in, Senators McCain and Graham make a joint statement!!

"We do not want to talk impeachment just yet as he left this brave soldier behind, we need to form a commission to look into this further. There are already 20 Republican Senators lined up to be on the committee " Sen. McCain went on," Why the United States did not go to the lengths it did for me to ascertain my release is beyond me. Just this January I advised the Administration to do whatever it takes to get this Hero Home. The US unequivocally never leaves a man behind!!"

To finish the coverage tonight will be Bill O'Reilly. On Bills show tonight!!

Bill O'Reilly states,"Vladimir Putin would have never let this happen. He is a tough man who takes action and would never let the Taliban torture one of his own. Obama is weak and the whole world knows it now more than ever."

On Bill's Talking Point Memo, he will talk about the tearful Parents as they made a brief statement today, from Bill,"Due to Obama's weakness these Parents grieve tonight. Much like Phil Robertson, Bob Bergdahl is the Patriarch of his family who stands on principal and would do anything to get his son back. Look he even grew a Freedom beard and learned to speak Arabic. Just in the hopes he could talk to the Taliban in their language. Possibly to get his son home. We should have more Father's like him out there!!"

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.

We now return control of your television set to you.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/10/1305769/-FOX-NEWS-ALERT-SGT-BERGDAHL-BEHEADED-BY-TALIBAN

Best Damn Thing I've Read All Day -- A personal narrative about Bowe Bergdahl

Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 08:03 AM PDT
Why I haven't (and after today, won't) commented on the Bergdahl affair
by BoiseBlue

My cousin, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, lost his life unexpectedly several years ago. He was not on active duty when he died and that somehow made his death even more confounding. His older brother was stationed in Iraq when it happened, fuming at the contractors who did a terrible job of the same work that he did for a lot more money and quite a bit less skill, and his younger brother, who was stationed in Afghanistan at the same time but remained tight-lipped about any of his feelings regarding anything related to his duty, were granted leave to attend the funeral.

My late cousin and I were never particularly close, but his oldest brother and I were for many years because I was only a year older than him and that's how cousins roll. We used to spend many summer days at grandma and grandpa's house playing "army" in their backyard. I don't attach any special significance to that in this context: that's what kids did when I was a little girl. Maybe they still do, I don't know.

What I do know is that when we were pretending to be soldiers way back when, war was not something that had any special meaning to it. It was something that happened in the past, not something that happens today. It was something we don't do because it's not a good thing.

But the myth of the soldier, the bravado and sheer toughness, is too much to not mimic and want to become when one is young and impressionable. Hell, I carried a Commando doll with me for a few years, dreaming of one day becoming as awesome as Arnold Schwarzenegger, confident that by the time I grew up women would be just as studly as men were allowed to be.

Anyway, before my cousin's death I was a faithful reader and recommender of the IGTNT series, but I haven't clicked on one of those diaries since that day.

Now, I want to be clear that I admire and respect the writers of that series and I know that it was borne of and has been continued for noble reasons.

But what happened the day that I got the news was a gut-wrenching experience. There was a WYFP diary posted later that night, and I commented that my fucking problem was that my cousin had died.

I posted the comment, shed a few more tears, and then stopped.

It immediately felt wrong to me that I had posted about it here, on this site, a specifically partisan/political site. I asked for the comment to be hidden and, to this day, that is (to my knowledge) the only comment I've ever made that was hidden.

I didn't want to exploit to his death and I immediately regretted that I had spoken of it here.

I have shared a lot of my inner life on this site, but that was a line I could not cross. Or rather, it was a line I DID cross and then wanted to take it back. So I did.

Kind of.

Since that day many years ago I have not clicked on a single IGTNT diary. It just feels wrong to me even though I know that every person writing those tributes is doing it for noble reasons.

The Wood River Valley, Bowe Bergdahl's home, is a beautiful place. I can't describe it to anyone who has never been in a high-elevation Idaho valley - it's just beautiful.

I spend a great deal of time there. It's my home away from home.... Actually, it's my home away from my NOT home. Since leaving Boise I don't want to be an Idahoan and when that feeling zaps my soul, I go to Ketchum, which is just a ten minute drive from Hailey, which is Bergdahl's hometown.

Where Bowe is concerned, time stood still there. The yellow ribbons have not moved since the day he was captured. The signs have not come down. The people have not become less passionate. A drive down the main road shows many pictures of Bowe and they have for over five years.

No one around here forgot Bowe.

The rest of the US seemed to have amnesia.

Not just about Bowe, but about the war. The sacrifice. The loss.

The price we pay for sending our young men and women to foreign countries and telling them to do something that they can never accomplish with the resources we give them.

None of these things are abstract here. They are all very real, and they are all embodied in the form of one young man who has been held captive for five very long years.

As you might expect, the media is swarming. Everyone who is anyone in "journalism" is there or has been there, and they are shoving a camera and/or microphone in every local's face about Bowe.

But no one cares about the political football it has become. One local woman, with a camera in her face, said bluntly that we're not going to worry or fight about the politics. We're just going to celebrate that Bowe is finally coming home.

And that woman speaks for me, and for every Idahoan that I know.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is a weird, bipolar dichotomy that Americans have when it comes to our solders. On the one hand, we revere them and consider them sacred.

On the other, (or more likely because of that), we expect them to be perfect. Strong, determined. Unwavering in the face of adversity, strife, or fucking bullets shooting towards them.

I like to think that I don't understand that mentality, but the truth is that I understand it so well that I am beyond words.

Bowe grew frustrated with the war; he sent an email to his parents expressing frustration to which his father replied, "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE."

No one knows what happened after that, and beware anyone who tells you that they do.

I am not getting into the nitty gritty about it because there are some things I know to be true:

The world is always a better place when we trust people to follow their own conscience.

We send men and women off to war and expect them to be perfect and then have a meltdown when they're not.

Guess what? They can't be, they never were prepared to be, and if you demand that of someone else then you need to be in a perfect, stone-free house when you insist that they should be.

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Why don't we simply trust the young men and women that we send off to war?

We trust them to defend our freedom, yet don't trust them to make a conscience decision about what they feel is right and wrong.

Some gleefully send them off to war and slap a magnet on their car and call themselves patriots, yet the moment one of our supposed heroes shows any inkling of a conscience they back off and say, "He's not worthy to wear the uniform."

Fuck that.

Bowe was worthy of the uniform when he was willing to die for you, so he fucking A is worthy of it now.

The fact is that there is a REAL flesh and blood American that was held captive for a very long time.

This is the reality. This is the truth.

A young man spent five years held captive and he's not a hero, he's not a turncoat, he's not a demon, he's not a hashtag, AND HE'S NOT A POLITICAL FOOTBALL.

He's a young man that went off to war thinking that he'd be able to make the world a better place by doing so.

He was captured, then he was freed. All the rest of it is just noise.

And all that matters is that he is coming home.

That's it. That's all.

After all these years, Bowe is finally coming home.

Everyone would do well to let him fucking adjust before casting him as a hero or villain.

All of it will come out in due time.

For many of us, this is not political.

We've been carrying him with us for a long time while the rest of the world moved on, and it's incredibly frustrating to watch everyone else play politics with it when, until just recently, it seemed no one even knew his name.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/06/08/1304798/-Why-I-haven-t-and-after-today-won-t-commented-on-the-Bergdahl-affair
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